Evangelicals, Scientists, Environmentalists Fight for Endangered Species Act

As the Senate prepares to take up revisions to the Endangered Species Act this month, evangelicals, scientists, environmentalists, and environmental-evangelical-scientists launched a nationwide effort to raise awareness among their supporters about the threat to the landmark law and to urge policymakers to preserve scientific protections in the act.

The Noah Alliance, an interfaith group of Evangelical Christian, Protestant and Jews, began running about $200,000 of advertisements on hundreds of radio, print and television media since Mar. 8. Organizers hope the ads, which will run through Mar. 13, will serve to alert people of faith to the potential dismantling of the Endangered Species Act – legislation they call “America’s modern-day ark to save God’s creatures.”

“As Evangelical Christians in our time, we see a most profound threat to God's creation in the destruction of endangered species and their God-given habitat,” said Calvin DeWitt, environmental professor at the University of Wisconsin and president of the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists. “We want the public to see the risk we face if Congress weakens the Endangered Species Act.”

The Academy, which includes nearly 70 Evangelical scholars from Baptist, Pentecostal, Reformed, and other churches and from 35 Christian colleges and universities in 19 states, is one of several faith-based groups that formed Noah’s Alliance last year specifically to bring a religious voice in the movement to protect endangered species.

According to Suellen Lowry, Program Director for Noah Alliance, many of the Alliance members also work in other green-evangelical movements, such as the newly launched Evangelical Climate Initiative that brought together over 80 influential evangelicals for the global warming cause.

“In the religious community, people work together informally,” explained Lowry. “There isn’t a formal connection, but many people who are involved in the Noah Alliance are also involved in the Climate Initiative.

“The theological underpinnings are quite similar,” she added. “It all goes together to protect God’s natural world.”

The Noah Alliance television and radio spots focus on the Biblical basis for engagement and call on people of faith to defend the Act because “God calls on us to care for all creatures.”

The House passed an Endangered Species Act rewrite last year that many environmentalists viewed as extreme. Supporters of the Act are working to ensure that the legislation expected soon from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will be an improvement.

Meanwhile, in a separate move, nearly 6,000 biologists from around the country signed a letter Wednesday urging senators to preserve the Endangered Species Act.